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The meanings of words and phrases from different languages widely used in everyday conversation


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FAMILIAR FOREIGN PHRASES AND THEIR MEANINGS

 

There are several words and phrases from
different countries which are widely used in our everyday language.  Here are a few of
the most popular together with their meanings.

 

ad lib = improvised

ad nauseam = to the point of
disgust

al fresco = in the open air

bona fide = in good faith,
genuine, sincere

bon vivant – a person who
enjoys living life to the full

carte blanche – a free hand

cause célèbre
controversial, public issue

caveat emptor – buyer beware

c’est la vie – That’s life

compos mentis – of sound mind

coup de gr̢ce Рthe
finishing stroke

cr̬me de la cr̬me Рthe
best of its kind

cri de coeur – a cry from the
heart, a heartfelt plea

fait accompli – something
already done

guru – spiritual leader or
teacher

infra dig – beneath dignity,
vulgar

in toto – as a whole

je ne sais quoi – hard to
define or describe

kitsch – sentimental bad
taste

modus operandi (abbreviation
mo) – way of working

per capita – per person, by
head of population

pi̬ce de r̩sistance Рmost
outstanding item

pied-à-terre – a second or
temporary home

prima donna – temperamental
performer

pro forma – according to or
as a matter of form

pundit – an authority in a
particular field

raison d’être – the purpose
of a thing or action

schmalz – excessive
sentimentality

status quo – the existing
state of affairs

tant pis – never mind, too
bad

tour de force – an
exceptionally skilful act

trompe l’oeil – an illusion
created to look like reality e.g. a view through a window painted on a brick wall.